Swimming Pool Drowning Accidents and Premises Liability: Responsibilities and Prevention

With an average of 278 sunny days per year, swimming is a year-round activity in Orange County. Even though swimming pools are a source of fun and enjoyment, they can also be dangerous.

According to the CDC, ten people in the United States die every day because of swimming pool-related drowning accidents, and these accidents are the most common cause of death in California for children under 14. In addition to fatal accidents, there are another 3,0000 injuries per year that require visits to the emergency room.

These accidents are tragic, and when another party’s negligence leads to a serious injury or death, an Orange County premises liability attorney can help you file a claim to seek financial compensation.

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Swimming Pool Accident?

Swimming pool accidents are a type of premises liability case. Premises liability laws result in property owners being held liable for injuries or accidents that occur on their property. While the most obvious course of action in a swimming pool accident claim is to begin by filing a claim against the owner of the property, other parties may also be at-fault for damages.

  • Property owners: As a general rule, property owners have a duty to ensure their property is safe for guests. In a swimming pool accident, property owners could include homeowners, renters, landlords, apartment complexes, gyms, and hotels. For public pools, municipalities may be liable for any injuries.
  • Product manufacturers: If a faulty party led to an accident, the company that made the product may be held liable. For example, if a pool drain malfunctions, an increase in suction force could cause hair or items of clothing to get stuck in the drain, leading to drowning and other injuries.

    Other companies that could be responsible include hardscape providers if they use a material that is too slippery or inappropriate for surfaces that routinely get wet.

To sum up product manufacture liability, any manufacturer who makes pool-related products could be financially responsible for an accident that leads to an injury.

  • Other people at the pool: In addition to property owners, other individuals may contribute to an accident and, therefore, be at fault. This could include lifeguards or teachers that have a duty to supervise swimmers, construction or maintenance crews, or adults with supervisory duties.

Trespassers and the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

In many cases, a property owner is not liable for injuries when the injured party was illegally trespassing on the property. Swimming pool accidents, however, can be an exception to this rule based on the attractive nuisance doctrine.

Liability for having an attractive nuisance on one’s property protects children, who, due to their age, inexperience, and natural curiosity, are considered less able to perceive the risk of a dangerous object or situation. The origin of this rule dates back to the late 19th century when railroad operators were held liable for machinery on their property that could both attract and harm a child.

A swimming pool is considered an attractive nuisance. Traditionally, property owners could avoid liability for injuries suffered by trespassers, but when the case involves a swimming pool and a minor, the attractive nuisance doctrine extends liability to the responsible party.

Common Causes of Swimming Pool Accidents

The circumstances that can lead to a swimming pool accident can be infinite, but the most common causes can be listed as follows:

  • Absence or malfunctioning fences
  • Absence of lifeguards when they are supposed to be on duty
  • Lack of parental or adult supervision
  • Failure to keep children out of the pool area
  • Lack of signs warning against dangers
  • Improperly trained lifeguards
  • Defective slides and diving boards
  • Improperly marked or poorly maintained depth markings
  • Faulty chemicals or improper chemical balances leading to poor visibility or illness
  • Slippery surfaces

Compensation for Swimming Pool Injuries

The amount of compensation available for victims of swimming pool accidents varies. Settlements depend on the type and extent of the injuries, how negligent the other party was, and whether the victim shares any blame for the incident.

The types of compensation that could be available include:

  • Lost wages and future lost earning
  • Medical expenses and ongoing medical treatment
  • Reimbursement for other expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium (loss of companionship of a loved one)
  • Burial expenses and other wrongful death compensation

Swimming Pool Safety Tips to Prevent Injuries and Accidents

No matter how careful someone is, swimming pool accidents that lead to serious injuries can still happen. However, taking preventive measures and observing safety rules can drastically reduce the chances of an accident happening.

According to the American Red Cross, pool owners and parents who take their children to public pools should ensure the following safety measures are implemented:

  • Provide supervision at all times, especially for minors who are most at risk for swimming pool injuries
  • Post “Lifeguard not on duty” signs in prominent locations
  • Always have a “water watcher” present to monitor swimmers and ensure no one is struggling in the water
  • Learn how to recognize the signs of drowning
  • Install a fence around the pool and ensure it is properly maintained
  • Install an alarm when the vicinity of the pool area is breached
  • Have safety and flotation devices within reach
  • Book swim lessons for yourself and any children in your household
  • Learn how to perform life-saving measures such as CPR

The American Red Cross further clarifies that if you notice someone is drowning, provide them with a flotation device or swim out to rescue them if you can safely do so. Calling emergency service is also a prudent move in the event that the swimmer has extensive injuries that require medical attention. When appropriate, perform CPR to replenish oxygen. CPR has a 91% success rate among drowning victims.

Contact an Experienced Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Today

The premises liability attorneys at Khalil Law Group have extensive experience in personal injury claims, including swimming pool injuries. Contact us at (714) 617-7870 to schedule a free consultation.

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